Thirteenth Summer

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Thirteenth Summer

It wasn’t that I could not get up
the nerve to water-ski

or that I hated
myself in a bathing suit

It was bare feet
of tanned twins

next to mine
in that Waskesiu boat

smoothly brown
as Indian princesses

nails polished
the pink of shells

beside my pasty
sandaled peasants

that made me feel
not one of the beautiful people.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly

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Prompt – Inspiration

The inspiration for this April 2011 poem was Adele Kenny’s memoir prompt. It begins:

For this prompt, try writing a memoir poem about an experience that haunts you. This is not to suggest a bad experience but, rather, a memory that continues to inform the present.

Memoir poems are narrative because they tell stories. However, we often see memoir “poems” that “narrate” in what is essentially prose (with a couple of good images, a few similes or metaphors, and stanzaic arrangements). Most of these poems don’t succeed because they never reach beyond the poet’s impulse to “tell.” The poem has to be more than the story – it has to be about what happened because of the story.

Read the rest of the prompt and a sample poem HERE.

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Poetry Friday LogoThis poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Irene Latham at her blog Live Your Poem.

19 thoughts on “Thirteenth Summer

  1. Isn’t it amazing the way that a feeling can linger with you, all these years later, as fresh and real as if it happened just yesterday? I remember 13 all too well, and having been pudgy, pasty and spotty, those memories certainly aren’t my favourite….!

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    • Thanks, Jane! Your description of yourself resonates with me! What I am so thankful for is that that cloud of negative comparisons of youth is gone and, as far as I can see, didn’t do any permanent damage. But yes, the memories can still bring up feelings of inadequacy and the longing to be more—like they did back then.

      >

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  2. Oh Violet, I can relate! Thank you for sharing your poem… I have one on the same subject in forthcoming book with Charles Water CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship. xo

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  3. After so, so long a time, there are those small moments that I still remember, in embarrassment of what could have been, or a longing of what I could have said. I taught this age for a long time & as a teacher at least knew that the children were so tender. I would have loved to have shared this with them, Violet. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  4. I love this prompt that brought back your memory of being 13 and ashamed of your feet. This could easily be a verse in a novel-in-verse about an awkward teenager. And weren’t we all awkward teens?

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